Public Defender Services (for individuals)

Who can use this service?

Any individuals charged with a crime in state court who are unable to afford a private attorney can use this service.

Is there a charge for this service?

Under California law, users of this service who have the ability to pay some or all of the cost of their legal defense may be responsible for a portion or all of the cost for services they receive. How much an individual may be charged is based on assessed ability to pay, the number of court appearances, and whether the case is filed as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Charges for Public Defender services are ordered by the Court and are paid to the Revenue Recovery Unit in the Probation Department. The Revenue Recovery Collection Unit is located on the 3rd floor of the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse. 

When and where is this service offered?

Public Defenders are Court appointed Attorneys. Eligibility for representation by a Public Defender is determined by the Court. The Court’s determination is based on an individual’s financial means and the complexity of the case.

A request can be made at the first Court hearing that the Judge appoint an attorney for the case. If an individual has hired a private attorney and can no longer afford it, or if an individual told the Judge at the first hearing that counsel would be obtained, but is now financially unable to do so, a request may be made that the Judge appoint an attorney for the case.

Frequently Asked Questions